Clean Eating as a Barrier to Health
Updated: Mar 3, 2021
Alright, who came up with this “Clean Eating” term anyway? And what does it mean.. to eat clean?
Does it imply a raw, vegan diet? No processed foods? But what even is a processed food? Do you eat only grass-fed meat? Does it mean dairy free, gluten free, sugar free? But if it means sugar free, can you eat dates? Are those clean?
We’ve been in clinical practice for a few years now, have several years of post-secondary & a few degrees under our belts, have learned from some pretty profound induvduals in the functional nutrition/medicine sphere, teach other practitioners for a living- and we can say with 100% confidence, we have no idea what the hell it means to eat clean.
In fact, the whole notion of clean eating is one of the largest barriers to health. Why? Clean eating is subjective- it is a conglomeration of beliefs, media influences and traditional education. This is problematic because:
1. Each one of us constructs our beliefs around what is healthy and what is not though our worldviews, not factual evidence
2. Nutrition advice that infiltrates mainstream media is filtered through government organizations that are funded by industries not conducive to health
3. Nutrition advice is passed on through social media influencers who are paid to sell a product they couldn’t explain on any physiological level
4. Conventional education in medicine and nutrition is also heavily influenced by the pharmaceutical industry
5. In addition to health education being subpar, we are largely influenced by our peers. The reality is though, what is healthy for someone might not be healthy for you.
More often than not clients, friends and family don’t put together this idea that their symptoms, low energy levels, weight fluctuations, skin issues or mood is related to their dietary patterns because they are under the impression they are “eating clean”.
What clean eating doesn’t take into consideration:
--> Nutrition needs vary from person to person. They also vary based on what phase of life you are in. What works at one point in time, might not work in the here and now
--> Clean eating is often unintentionally restrictive and this is reflected in the clinical nutrient deficiencies we commonly see in individuals who adhere to what they believe is eating clean/healthy
--> Many products that are marketed as health foods, promote inflammation and have adverse effects on our physiology- this is known as health washing and is an often utilized, prominent marketing strategy used by food companies.
The bottom line is eating clean means different things to different people and it’s a concept based off beliefs influenced by organizations that don’t have the best intentions.
Mainstream nutrition advice promotes inflammation, increases risk for chronic disease and provides an inadequate nutrition profile- and this is what we use as the foundation for the food choices we make. For context, these concepts were promoted by health organizations worldwide that have been clinically proven to be detrimental to health:
--> The low-fat movement, where governments endorsed high sugar products over healthy fats. This movement is responsible for a large percent of the cardiovascular disease we see today. Evidence is now suggesting that the low-fat movement is correlated to the increase in the current rise of neurodegenerative disease
--> The idea that dietary cholesterol correlates to cholesterol levels in the body
--> The villanization of carbohydrates
--> This idea we need to cut calories and restrict ourselves to lose weight
--> The promotion of vegetable seed oils that damage cardiovascular tissue
The list goes on- but the takeaway is that the health advice passed on from health professionals in conventional spheres is conducive to chronic illness. In addition, there is an increasingly reliance on dietary advice from those not educated in the realm of physiology, nutritional sciences and functional medicine.
The rise in social media has also promoted a rise in the regurgitation of nutrition information that may not be accurate. There are several one size fits all programs in regards to nutrition, that don’t consider individuality and are taught by those without the educational background or clinical experience.
Clean eating, and our perception of health have been skewed through the common narrative and social media. The need to reframe what it means to eat clean is essential.
Some common signs that your current dietary habits are not serving you, or your clients are: Low energy, poor sleep, skin inflammation, acne, joint aches/pains, thinning hair, digestive, anxiety, discomfort, fatigue, irritability, frequent colds (more than 2 a year), chronic illness among others.
We created a whole course that walks you through foundational nutrition so that you can make empowered choices for you and your health. The principles taught in this course are basic but not common. Our goal is to give you tools and concepts to feel your best, to help you have quality years, to help be part of the change in improving global health outcomes. Click HERE to take a look and see the information not taught in schools, the information that helps you feel good now and in the future. We can’t wait to have you.
Authors: Sidney & Lisa, Co-founders, Fiore health